Virgin Racing

Formula 1 Team reports for the 2010 F1 season includes race previews, reports and reviews

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Virgin Racing

Postby Ed » Wed Feb 03, 2010 11:36 pm

THE VR-01 - A VIRTUAL REALITY

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The new Virgin Racing Formula One team, one of the sport’s four new entrants for the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship, has proudly unveiled its debut race car - the VR-01.

The VR-01 is the first of a new breed of race car designed entirely in the digital domain using CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics). It is the brainchild of Virgin Racing’s Technical Director, Nick Wirth, who has gained an international reputation for pioneering a purely CFD approach to car development, wholly designing, building and testing race cars in computer simulation without the need for expensive, resource-heavy scale-model wind tunnel testing.

A new team for a new era of Formula One, the Virgin Racing team concept looks to exploit and capitalise upon F1’s new economic dawn. The team was launched at an event in London last December, but with the focus now firmly on developing the ground-breaking VR-01 for the start of the 2010 season, it was fitting that the roll-out of the new car should also be ‘all-digital’. All eyes were on the car’s distinctive red and black livery as the VR-01 commenced its tour of duty at a photographic studio, ahead of an official launch presentation on VirginRacing.com. PR commitments completed, the VR-01 was taken directly to Silverstone where it will be prepared for a two-day shakedown prior to its first scheduled test in Jerez next week.

A busy schedule lies ahead, much like the one that has taken the VR-01 from dream to reality in the space of just 10 months. Nick Wirth’s design team at Wirth Research in Bicester, UK, started putting the basic layout of the VR-01 together in the early part of 2009 in order to hit the ground running should the team’s 2010 entry be successful. 12 days after the team was accepted into the Championship, the design of the monocoque surfaces was locked down and a race against time was underway. The established F1 teams had a significant head start, not least because they had the obvious advantage of evolution, whereas Wirth Research designed the VR-01, quite literally, from a blank computer screen.

Most F1 teams use CFD in the design process but in tandem with scale model testing in one or more wind tunnels. The VR-01 is the product of six months of pure CFD development involving thousands of design solutions generated by the technical team at Wirth Research and the state-of-the-art technology at their Bicester base. In theory, the team’s pre-season testing programme began several months ago - in the virtual sense - courtesy of what is widely regarded as amongst the most progressive real-time Simulator technology in motor sport. When race drivers Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi begin testing in anger next week, the VR-01 should feel very similar to the car they ‘drove’ on the Wirth Research simulator.

With the VR-01 now a reality, Virgin Racing Technical Director, Nick Wirth, outlined the team’s objectives for its debut F1 season and the longer term:

“Today is a very proud day for everyone involved with Virgin Racing, however on this occasion, where the car is the star, I want to pay tribute to all the amazing people at Wirth Research who deserve so much of the credit for the VR-01. Putting together an F1 team, assembling an engineering group and designing a new car from scratch is an epic task in the timeframe we have been working to.

“I have been fortunate to have worked with the very best designers in F1 and I am well aware of exactly what it takes to be successful in this sport. When you see what the existing teams have achieved using the conventional but proven design approach, it is unsurprising that there is a great deal of scepticism about our all-CFD approach. But we are competing in a sport that is undergoing significant change having come face to face with today’s harsh economic realities. Under resource restriction, convention will become too costly and necessity really will be the mother of invention. I have absolute belief in the digital design process and the opportunity to put the all-CFD approach to the test at the highest level - to demonstrate that this could be the way for the future of F1 - is very, very exciting.”

Providing a more detailed insight into the new car, Nick continued: “The VR-01 is the product of an intensive exploration and appraisal of all the factors that go into creating a great racing car, coupled with the more specific parameters of the 2010 Sporting and Technical Regulations. The chassis design implications created by the refuelling ban were obviously considerable. The requirement to carry the entire race quantity of fuel creates significant packaging and optimisation challenges. Similarly, the reduction in the width of the front tyres and the effect that will have on front-end grip called for extensive modelling and simulation work since we had no data to refer to from previous years.

“We believe we have achieved a car that has first-class design integrity and which will benefit from a high degree of aerodynamic efficiency and stability. Reliability has been a major focus and all key areas comply with the FIA safety regulations and crash test requirements for the impact structures – the nose, monocoque, side and rear impact structures - which are particularly stringent in light of the increased fuel load.

Paying tribute to the team behind the team, Nick said: “We have assembled a fantastic design and engineering group, the calibre of which I could only have dreamed of attracting when we first started out on this journey. They bring an exciting blend of youth, experience and creativity, which is an important part of the make-up of the wider Wirth Research group. Our combined strength in depth ensured we were able to maintain a calm, methodical approach despite the challenging timeframe we were working to. I’m particularly happy that Wirth Research has remained ahead of the game throughout, with chassis manufacture, gearbox design and casting, crash testing and other long-lead processes all coming to fruition well within schedule.

“We are a serious racing team with serious ambitions, so we aren’t going to try to run before we can walk. The starting point is to try to run reliably, safely and efficiently and be the best of the new teams. Then we will start to bring performance to the car through a continuous development programme in computer simulation. We fully expect to encounter issues along the way; CFD is an approximation – as is scale-model testing. In both cases, it is only when you hit the track that you can really appreciate the effect of factors that are tricky to model with any technology such as the effect that the real stiffness of all bodywork components and joints has on the airflow for example. We’ve done all of this before on both closed and open-wheel cars, so I’m pretty confident in the accuracy of our predictions and looking forward to seeing how our starting configuration performs on the race track.

“We have two very focused and determined race drivers in Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi. The significant effort they have been putting in behind the scenes over the past couple of months in the simulator will prove invaluable as we start to translate our development work to the track-based testing phase.

“It is also fantastic to be working with Cosworth as they embark on a new chapter in their F1 history. They are a strong company and I had the pleasure of racing against them when we were working in Indy cars, where they did a super job. The CA2010 is a nice package and the Cosworth engineers seem very determined to prove themselves again. I’m sure people will see that Cosworth have done a great job.”

Virgin Racing Team Principal, John Booth commented: “Today is the culmination of a very emotional journey which really began in June last year when we celebrated the fantastic news that our entry into Formula One had been accepted. The celebrations were necessarily brief however, because we were already in a race against time to design and develop a race car at the same time as building a new team of people and premises.

“I have always had the utmost confidence in Nick to design a good race car, just as he has the faith in the race team to make a good job of operating it. Having worked closely with the technical team over the past 10 months, I know that the VR-01 is the product of a very intensive and thorough design and development process and my excitement at seeing our first race car make its track debut later this week is shared by every single person involved with Virgin Racing.

“The first stage in our on-track evaluation programme is our two-day shakedown at Silverstone on Thursday and Friday this week, where we will conduct systematic testing and confidence-building of all car parts and on-car systems. It was always intended that we would miss the first all-team test in Valencia this week and very early on we targeted the second Jerez test in two weeks’ time for our public testing debut. It is a testament to our methodical approach and the sheer hard work of the team that we are heading to Spain a week earlier than planned to take part in the first Jerez test next week.

“I would like to congratulate our new race team - a great bunch of guys working together for the very first time in the pressure-cooker environment of a demanding car build schedule. Logistically it hasn’t been easy, since the initial build of the two race cars is taking place in Bicester, rather than our operational base in Dinnington. Their commitment and professionalism has been exemplary and they have set their own very high bar in terms of trackside performance this season.

“Finally, not only do we have a great bunch of people at Virgin Racing, we also have a great-looking car. We are delighted with our fantastic new livery which provides a fitting integration of our racing brand with our important commercial partnerships. All in all, we have a lot to look forward to as we progress towards our racing debut in Bahrain next month.”

Summing up the mood within Virgin Racing at today’s launch of the VR-01, CEO Graeme Lowdon said: “The full testing debut of the VR-01 in Spain next week will provide our first chance to see what we have achieved over the past 10 months, however, for me, simply getting to this point is an incredible achievement in itself. None of this would have been possible were it not for the incredible determination of the whole team led by John and Nick including fantastic support from Virgin and LDC in addition to our team partners. I am very proud of our team. We have all the components with which to achieve the ambitious targets we have set for ourselves during the next few years”.

Sir Richard Branson, Chairman of the Virgin group, said: “What a car! Nick and his design team have done an incredible job and so today they deserve all of the spotlight. It’s been fantastic to be part of this journey almost from the very beginning and to see a great engineering mind at work. I’m sure we will be measured by how fast the car is on the track in Jerez next week, but I hope that doesn’t overshadow the far bigger achievement of pulling an entire racing team together and taking a brave step that defies convention. In many ways this is an exploration, but given the absolute self-belief we have seen, I can’t help but feel very excited about what we can go on to achieve in the years ahead. For now though I’m looking forward to seeing the VR-01 on–track in testing in the coming weeks as we prepare for Virgin Racing’s very first grand prix.”

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Postby Ed » Thu Feb 11, 2010 8:53 am

Jerez Test - Day 1

Virgin Racing are up and running in Jerez. The team and car arrived here yesterday, followed closely by some brand new parts which have been developed from last week’s initial shakedown data. To maximise the benefit of these new parts, the team pushed on through the night and into the morning to ensure that the car was fully updated for today. Unfortunately, the downtime meant that the one hour of early dry-running was missed. Timo Glock eventually took to a wet circuit at 13.10 local time for his opening lap and the team limited his running to a further two very short runs to ensure the car is ready for a full day of testing tomorrow. Lucas waited patiently in the wings, keeping a close eye on the data and a close ear on Timo’s radio feedback. He will take over the reins of the VR-01 on Friday for his own two-day programme.

Nick Wirth, Virgin Racing Technical Director, said: “We’ve completed some short installation runs today without any car-related issues. A few new parts arrived here quite late yesterday and so the only option was for everyone to work through the night. Sadly, that meant we missed the dry-window, and we are not at a point where it is worth risking the car in wet running. As a result, we’ve kept things sensible and worked through the job list to prepare the car for tomorrow. Timo’s early feedback has been as it was at Silverstone and so we all look forward to a solid day of running tomorrow. It’s ironic that the weather was better on Friday in Silverstone than it has been for most of today!”

Timo Glock said: “It’s great to be back in the car and to have the chance to open it up a bit around a few full laps of the track. It’s early days but I’m encouraged by what I’ve experienced so far and in particular the fact that we haven’t had any reliability issues on the first day of our first proper test. A big thank you to the guys for working all through the night. I hope they can get some sleep tonight so we can all start to put the car through its paces tomorrow.”

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Postby Ed » Sat Feb 13, 2010 11:58 am

Jerez Test - Day 2

“This morning we experienced a front wing mounting problem which caused the wing to come off the car at the beginning of a run. The cause has already been identified. Unfortunately, we’re missing one or two spare parts which will hopefully arrive this evening, so we won’t be able to run for the rest of the day. In the short amount of running that we’ve achieved so far, we are very encouraged by what we’ve seen and we have gathered some vital aero data which is very much in the range of what we were predicting. We look forward to resuming the programme tomorrow morning.”

Nick Wirth, Technical Director of Virgin Racing

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Postby Ed » Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:00 pm

Jerez Test - Day 3

“Once again, despite working round-the-clock to remedy yesterday’s problem, we not only missed the opportunity for dry running early this morning, but it was so wet this afternoon that we and all the other teams lost a lot of running later in the session when we were finally able to get going. This was particularly annoying given the great efforts by Wirth Research who, rather than just dispatching existing parts from our Bicester base, designed and manufactured new parts, R&D tested them and got them out to the circuit within a 24 hour period. Nevertheless, as was the case with the early issues we encountered with last year’s Championship-winning LMP1 Acura, the harder you work, the luckier you get and with the hours we are putting in at the moment we are all hoping that our fortunes will change soon! The drivers remain positive, the data we are gathering is as expected and we’re all keeping our heads down and just getting on with what we need to do at this early stage in our development.”

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Postby Ed » Sun Feb 14, 2010 11:56 am

Jerez - Day 4 (13 February)

Virgin Racing brought its debut test with the VR-01 to a successful conclusion in Jerez today. Lucas di Grassi completed 63 laps of the 4.5km circuit and posted the 9th fastest time of the 10 cars out on track today - a 1:22.912. Although this was the fourth and final day of running for the team, it was the first real opportunity to gauge the relative performance of the VR-01 having only achieved very limited wet running during the previous three days of the test.

Nick Wirth, Technical Director of Virgin Racing, commented: “It is very pleasing to end our first test on such a positive note, having finally achieved some solid running in dry conditions. We have remained focused on the job list in hand and given that we have been working with a representative fuel load to evaluate various set-ups, our lap time and rate of progress is encouraging at this very early stage.”

Team Principal John Booth commented: “This is a great reward for the team. They have all worked so hard over the past few days to achieve such positive running on our final day here. Everyone is extremely buoyant and looking forward to being back here in Jerez next week.”

Lucas di Grassi said: “After three days of very little running, in the space of one day we have completed lots of mileage in the dry and we were able to work through lots of important items on our programme. The car was behaving much better after the work we did since yesterday and I think what we have achieved today is a very good start for our team. I would like to thank the guys for working some unbelievable hours this week. The way they have come together is fantastic and generally I am very happy with where we are.”

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Postby Ed » Fri Feb 19, 2010 8:56 am

18 February 2010
Trackside Update - Jerez Test 2 - Day 1 (17 February)Circuito de Jerez, Spain

Virgin Racing were trackside in Jerez today where the team’s second full test with the VR-01 got underway. After a successful conclusion to its testing debut here last week, the team experienced more of the rough than the smooth today when an elusive hydraulics problem proved hard to pin down. After dodging the wet running that is starting to dominate pre-season testing, the team were forced to spend the afternoon in diagnostic mode conducting a series of out-laps to try to flush out the root cause through the hydraulic system. As a result, the team completed just 10 laps of the 4.5km circuit and were unable to set a representative lap time.

Nick Wirth, Technical Director of Virgin Racing, commented: “We have experienced a sequence of hydraulic problems which were tricky to diagnose on a new car. This caused us to suffer long and frustrating periods confined to the garage and when we did venture out on track it was purely to conduct a series of exploratory out-laps to try to understand if we had cured the problem. We eventually discovered the real issue, albeit rather late in the day. Nonetheless, having fully identified the problem, we can fix it tonight and look forward to what we hope will be a more constructive day of running for Timo and the team tomorrow.”

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Postby Ed » Sat Feb 20, 2010 7:02 pm

Trackside Update - Jerez 2 - Day 2 (18 February)

Virgin Racing experienced an altogether more productive day in Jerez today. The team completed an encouraging 72 laps with Timo Glock posting the 8th fastest time of the 12 cars on track. While the team’s fortunes took a turn for the better, the weather still hasn’t and the rain looks likely to continue for much of the remaining two days of crucial pre-season testing. Tomorrow it’s Lucas di Grassi’s turn in the VR-01.

Nick Wirth, Virgin Racing Technical Director, commented: “After a great overnight effort from the Virgin Racing team, we managed to complete more than a race distance today, which is very satisfying after our frustrations of yesterday. We also managed to prove out some development parts which gave results completely in line with the performance prediction from the development programme at Wirth Research. This is always satisfying as it gives the team and drivers a great and confidence-inspiring introduction to our development program for this car. We continue to work around the clock to fix issues as they arise, and we’re looking forward to Lucas’s comments on the car’s progress tomorrow.”

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Postby Ed » Sat Feb 20, 2010 7:04 pm

Trackside Update - Jerez 2 - Day 3 (19 February)

Day three of this week’s test saw Lucas di Grassi back in the VR-01 for Virgin Racing. Finally the wet weather in Jerez subsided, however no sooner had the team embarked on an intensive list of testing items than an earlier hydraulic issue resurfaced and the team were forced to spend much of the day troubleshooting the problem in the garage rather than making the most of this opportunity for much-needed dry track time. Lucas completed just 34 laps and as a result he ended the day 10th out of the 11 cars on track today.

Nick Wirth, Technical Director of Virgin Racing, commented: “After being delayed by a small spin this morning on a drying track, we ran through some critical race-related procedures which we haven’t had time to get to so far during testing. Once the track had completely dried, we started our performance work but we were again frustrated by a reoccurrence of one of our known hydraulic issues. This stopped Lucas from doing more than a handful of flying laps and then finally prevented any more meaningful running, so he didn’t get up to speed today. The hydraulic issue caught us out on the first day of this test and since Wednesday we’ve been forced to run conservatively until a new solution is available for the Barcelona test. We’ll try and put some more fixes in place tonight to allow us to get some more laps in tomorrow. We’re very aware that Lucas has had very little running so far and we hope to improve things so he can get more seat time at the Barcelona test next week.”

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Postby Ed » Wed Feb 24, 2010 9:33 am

Trackside Update - Jerez Test 2 - Day 4 (20 February)

Virgin Racing concluded its second full pre-season test in Jerez today. Timo Glock climbed back into the cockpit of the VR-01 with the intention of achieving much-needed dry track time in the improved conditions. In the absence of the new parts set to be introduced for next week’s test in Barcelona, the team continued to endure a frustrating time addressing the current hydraulic issue. In another day of compromised running, Timo completed just 28 laps and his best time was a 1:22.433.

Nick Wirth, Technical Director of Virgin Racing, commented: “It has been a character-building week, that’s for sure! Despite our best efforts to cure the hydraulic problem which has beset our entire test, this was simply not achievable with the components that we had available in the field. The specific problem is that we have been losing hydraulic oil at a rate which has limited the number of laps we can achieve on each run and so we look forward to receiving updated parts for the Barcelona test, which we expect to fully resolve the problem. Having said that, we will now need to continue focusing on reliability work when we would have liked to introduce our Bahrain-specification aerodynamic updates. The revised programme means we will be reserving our full set of aero warpaint for the first race.

“On a positive note, despite these issues, we have actually completed a lot of good race preparation work and it is satisfying to see the car’s potential with minimum set-up changes or development, bearing in mind that we have consistently run with a healthy amount of fuel. Indeed, none of our lap times have been achieved with anything close to qualifying fuel and therefore we are not letting the frustrations in one specific area overshadow what has generally been an encouraging start to our development programme.”

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Postby Ed » Wed Feb 24, 2010 9:35 am

Virgin Racing Signs Andy Soucek

The Virgin Racing Formula One team is pleased to announce that it has signed Andy Soucek to the role of Test and Reserve Driver, finalising the team’s driver line-up for the 2010 season.

The 24 year old Spaniard, winner of the 2009 FIA Formula 2 Championship, will attend Grands Prix with Virgin Racing during its inaugural season, benefiting from being part of the team’s race weekend preparations whilst standing by to deputise for one of the race drivers if required.

Andy will also provide valuable car development support back at the team’s technical base in Bicester, assisting in the ongoing simulator programme with race drivers Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi in between Grands Prix.

Andy will continue to hone his racecraft in a variety of other motor racing series.

John Booth, Team Principal of Virgin Racing, commented: “We are delighted to welcome Andy Soucek to Virgin Racing. He had a very good season in Formula 2 last year and a positive F1 test with Williams. He is certainly someone we have been keeping a close eye on as we believe he has a great deal of potential. We expect him to be a real asset to our development programme with the VR-01 and at the same time he provides the experience we need should he be required to deputise for one of the race drivers at short notice. We are pleased to have finalised our driver line-up and we look forward to having Andy alongside us in Barcelona later this week so he can spend some valuable familiarisation time with the team.”

Andy Soucek commented: “I am thrilled to be joining Virgin Racing. This role offers me a great opportunity to prepare myself for the Formula One environment, which is naturally where my longer-term ambitions lie. I look forward to learning from Timo and Lucas as well as soaking up as much information as possible from engineering meetings and time on the simulator. I would like to thank John Booth and Nick Wirth in particular for the faith they have shown in me at this stage in my career. It is exciting and very motivating to be part of a new structure in such a challenging sport and I hope that my experience can contribute a great deal to the development of the car and team in order to help us progress as quickly as possible.”

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Postby Ed » Sat Feb 27, 2010 9:51 am

Barcelona Test - Day 1

25 February 2010
Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona

Virgin Racing got down to business at its third and final pre-season test in Barcelona today. The dry and sunny conditions were in welcome contrast to the weather the teams experienced during the last two tests in Jerez and so Lucas di Grassi had been looking forward to getting some good mileage under his belt. There were a few smaller issues to contend with early this morning but then Lucas was finally able to take to the track in earnest. He completed 31 laps before a spin at turn nine brought an end to the day’s running and this meant he was unable to improve on his best time of the morning - a 1:27.057. The early conclusion spells a long night for the team as they replace damaged parts ready for Timo to join the programme tomorrow.

Nick Wirth, Technical Director of Virgin Racing, commented: “We are continuing to debug the car hydraulics and making good progress in our understanding of the issue. Unfortunately when we were running some experimental control settings on the car, which were adversely affecting its handling, this caught Lucas out on the entry to turn nine resulting in a spin and contact with the barrier. We’re going to need to spend the time before tomorrow replacing some broken suspension and wings. We should be back on track tomorrow morning when we hope to really start building up our mileage.”

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Postby Ed » Sat Feb 27, 2010 9:53 am

Barcelona Test - Day 2

26 February 2010
Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona

Virgin Racing enjoyed a productive day of running at the Circuit de Catalunya today as Timo Glock took to the track for some quality testing of the VR-01 in the dry. The day wasn’t entirely without issue but with just two more days of pre-season testing to go before the team’s debut race, the opportunity to continue debugging the car at the same time as conducting valuable race preparation work in more representative warm and sunny conditions was most welcome. Timo completed 52 laps and set a best time of 1:25.942.

At the end of the day the team conducted its very first pitstop practice session, putting the all-new Virgin Racing pit crew through their paces in preparation for the pressure-cooker of race day in Bahrain.

Nick Wirth, Technical Director for Virgin Racing, said: “Our recent hydraulic issues, plus yesterday’s crash, have required us to focus the remaining pre-season track time on procedural preparation for Bahrain. The crash rebuild postponed the start of today’s programme to midday, nevertheless it was quite satisfying to see us complete the day with no reoccurrence of our hydraulic problems. Timo took over the driving duties from Lucas today and we never really got him happy with his throttle pedal, which is something we’re addressing tonight.”

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Postby Ed » Sun Feb 28, 2010 10:09 am

Barcelona Test - Day 3
27 February 2010

Virgin Racing’s Timo Glock concluded his final day of running at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona today, on the penultimate day of Formula One’s pre-season testing campaign.

It was a rollercoaster ride of a day, the team’s race preparation work with the VR-01 punctuated by minor but frustrating problems which cost valuable running time.

Nick Wirth, Technical Director for Virgin Racing, commented: “A couple of assembly issues affected our programme today. The gearbox problem delayed our start and by the time we were ready to run, the rain came along. We used the changeable conditions up to lunchtime working through a programme of control system preparation for Bahrain and we were looking forward to a more productive afternoon. However, lunchtime checks revealed a cut fuel system seal, which meant we had to pull the engine off to replace it. We used the remaining time this afternoon to complete a few more interesting tests with Timo. We’re hoping that our planets will align tomorrow to allow us a smooth final day of testing before we head into our debut Grand Prix in Bahrain in two weeks’ time.”

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Postby Ed » Mon Mar 01, 2010 11:40 am

Barcelona Test - Day 4
28 February

Virgin Racing today concluded its three-test, pre-season programme at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, the team’s final day of running ahead of the season curtain-raiser in Bahrain in two weeks’ time.

In consistently warm and dry conditions, Lucas di Grassi completed 49 laps and set a best time of 1:26.160.

The past three weeks have witnessed a monumental effort by the whole team to ensure Virgin Racing arrives in Bahrain in the best possible shape. Despite a few mechanical trials and tribulations along the way, the team takes away many positives from the programme, particularly in the areas of aerodynamic performance and validation.

Nick Wirth, Technical Director for Virgin Racing, commented: “Once again, our running today has been heavily compromised by the reoccurrence of the hydraulic leak. We have new components designed to fix this issue on their way for the Bahrain race and we’re looking forward to putting that particular story behind us. Lucas did manage to conduct some productive race work but we leave Barcelona having never run a qualifying simulation or the super soft tyres that all our competitors are likely to have set their times on. Now both Virgin Racing and Wirth Research have a busy two weeks preparing both race cars and spares for our debut in Bahrain.”

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Postby Ed » Sat Mar 13, 2010 7:03 am

Bahrain In-Sight
Bahrain

Well, they say time flies and after an exhaustive nine month programme of car design and development, team-building and pre-season testing, Virgin Racing’s Grand Prix debut has finally arrived. The 45-strong race team are up and running in the Kingdom of Bahrain for the opening round of the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship on 12/13/14 March.

The first of nineteen Grands Prix on this year’s calendar, the Middle Eastern location provides drivers with the challenge of the 3.9 mile (6.299km) Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir. With 23 turns, four straights, an elevation change of 18 metres and very high track and ambient temperatures, there will be plenty of factors to put the team to the test in what will literally be the white heat of its inaugural race.

After three weeks of pre-season testing in Jerez and Barcelona, race drivers Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi spent much of last week at Virgin Racing’s technical base in Bicester, UK, driving the Sakhir track on the simulator. They have now reached terra firma in Bahrain with the aim of leaving no stone unturned in their quest to ensure they are physically and mentally prepared for the challenges of the week ahead.

Timo Glock, Race Driver #24
“Pre-season testing has been pretty eventful for our team. We saw some very positive signs of the potential of the car and the team, but we also experienced some reliability issues and too much rain, the combination of which prevented us from maximising our track time. However, if I stand back and look at what we have built together in the space of only nine months, we should all feel pretty proud.

“Here we are, heading into our first race and I’m very excited. We’re as ready as we can be. We’re a small team but we have the resources and people to keep building something special together and that is what we must all keep in mind as we progress. We have some great team members at Virgin Racing who know what it takes to be quick and what we have to do to get to where we want to be. Our objective remains to be the best of the new teams and that particular race starts this weekend.”

Lucas di Grassi, Race Driver #25
“It’s very exciting to be here at last, ready to take part in our debut Grand Prix. It’s also my own personal F1 debut which definitely makes this weekend the high point of my career. I’d like to thank everybody in the team for the hard work and determination that we have all seen, especially over the past few weeks in pre-season testing. It hasn’t always gone our way but the team have fought hard and their spirits are high. Bahrain will be a tough challenge for sure. We will need to learn how to get the maximum out of the car in race weekend conditions.”

Nick Wirth, Technical Director
“The past nine months have flown by so quickly, it’s hard to believe that our Grand Prix debut has arrived. Despite the challenges we encountered in pre-season testing, we have conducted a great deal of off-track preparation, to give ourselves the best possible chance of a strong showing in our inaugural race. The rest will be down to good fortune and we’ve probably stored some of that up by now!

“We think that we have identified and applied appropriate fixes to the various hydraulic problems that affected our winter testing so badly. We also didn’t get the chance to set times with low fuel or the super-soft tyre in testing and so going into Bahrain we have yet to show our true performance level. Free practice on Friday will provide our first real barometer of relative competitiveness, but we’ll only know our true Bahrain pace on Saturday afternoon. To give us our best possible chance, we will be introducing the first of our season’s aerodynamic and mechanical development parts, which will significantly improve our pace versus our testing configuration, with more planned developments being added for Melbourne.

“As one of the most challenging circuits for car and brake cooling - with several hard braking corners on the lap - Bahrain is going to provide an altogether different challenge after three wet weeks of pre-season testing. Therefore the spotlight will inevitably fall upon the car’s cooling systems – and those of our drivers, who face cockpit conditions of around 45°C.

“Our simple objective for Bahrain is to do everything possible to ensure we have a strong debut race from lights to flag. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved with Virgin Racing and Wirth Research for their support and the massive effort that has brought us so far in such a short space of time.”


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